Princess Mononoke: Review/Synopsis

by: Julz
A masterpiece, not just an Anime. An original modern fable. It ranks up there with other Anime classics such as Akira and Metropolis. For anyone interested in the genre this is a must see.

Princess Mononoke is one of the most original and unique movies I've seen, even if it is a cartoon. It doesn't draw from any particular genre or type, the closest I can think of in terms of heritage is the Ainu people of northern Japan, who seem to have been the inspiration for the look and feel of it. Despite it being a cartoon there is a considerable level of violence, and the situations are geared towards adults (animation is definitely not just for children). The film is quite serious, playing upon the theme of man vs. nature. It contains many epic qualities such as journeying heroes, wars, and involvement from supernatural gods, however, there is a lack of any sort of romantic love.

Unfortunately, like most anime that maded to the west, the quality of dubbing can be improved. Billy Crudup's plays a very emotionless Ashitaka, Billy Bob Thornton's Texan accent destroyed the character and the setting, and Claire Danes completely degrades San's noble character with a whiny, valley-girl tone. Hollywood stars just don't have a grip of the anime. It is strongly recommanded that you watch the Japanese version with English subtitles, the voice acting is much better. Sadly, in the upcoming DVD release, there is no japanese language version.

This movie will probably stand for years to come as one of the very few truly original modern fables. It is another Miyazaki masterpiece: Beautiful animation, mystical fern-gullyesque settings, and subtle music which complements the serious nature of the film.

The film follows Ashitaka, a prince of the disappearing Ainu tribe, who is cursed by a demonised boar god and must journey to the west to find a cure from the Forest Spirit. Along the way, he encounters San (The Princess Mononoke), a young human woman fighting to protect the forest and Lady Eboshi, the head of Tatara Ba (Iron Town). Ashitaka is forced to find a middle ground between the two ambivalent forces.

Based on Japanese folklore, "Princess Mononoke" is a riveting piece which is moving and touches upon subjects that are still relevant today - questions of war, ecology, morals and principles.